Wellington's Headquarters at Freineda, Portugal
During the winters of 1811-1812 and 1812-1813, Wellington's headquarters was in a small Portuguese village about 25 kilometers from the Spanish border fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo. According to Captain Browne, who was in the Adjutant-General's office, it "was a miserable village... the accommodations of every kind were as wretched as it was possible to conceive." The village consisted of about 200 people with 50 houses and a large church; however it was so small that it could not house the complete headquarters staff. The Artillery and Engineer Departments were located in another village about 5 kilometers to the south, while the medical and commissary departments, along with the judge-advocate general was housed in a third village about 5 kilometers to the north.
Wellington had the largest house in the town, with a large dining room for entertaining, and a separate bedroom. The house was made of large stone blocks and situated close to the church. Living arrangements for the other officers and men were considerably different. Judge Advocate Larpant, who moved to Freineda because his other quarters were so bad, stated that his new quarters "is a hole boarded off from the common Portuguese room, where there are three men and two women chattering, and running in and out; the window between us I have nailed a pocket handkerchief before, but the boards are open at the top and all about. My room is six feet by fourteen wide, one pane of glass put in by some former officer at one end, about a foot by six inches and a fireplace (a great luxury here) close by it. My table I have squeezed in under the window, I have one bench, have put up two shelves, have hung my saddles on one side of my room and my baggage under them, leaving just place for my bed at the other side of my room; there I eat, drink, sleep, and write." John Green, who was serving as an officer's servant, was quite content to be able to sleep in a stable.
Although Freineda is a quaint little town with whitewashed buildings and narrow streets, it is not much larger than when Wellington was there. The house where he stayed is still standing and sits next to the church on the town square. There is a plaque on the wall commemorating Wellington's stay. This plaque states:
Quartel - General de
Marques de Torres Vedras
Commante - Chefe do
Exercito Luso - Britanico
Novembro 1812 - Mayo 1813
Wellington's Headquarters at Freineda
From Ciudad Rodrigo go west on E 80 until the Portuguese border crossing station (about 17 km.) Cross the border and go into the town of Vilar Formosa. Head south on 332 towards the town of Nave de Haver. In about 5 km there will be a small road heading west with a sign that says Freineda. Freineda is about 3 km from the road junction.
Click on the following for photographs of the interior of Wellington's Headquarters in Freineda
Browne, Thomas: The Napoleonic War Journal of Captain Thomas Henry Browne 1807-1816.
Green, John: A Soldier's Life: 1806-1815 (Originally published as The Vicissitudes of a Soldier's Life).
Larpent, Francis: The Private Journal of F. S. Larpent, ESQ., Judge Advocate General of the British Forces in the Peninsula Attached to the Head-quarters of Lord Wellington During the Peninsular War, From 1812 to its Close.
Thornton, James: Your Most Obedient Servant: James Thornton Cook to the Duke of Wellington.
Ward, S.G.P.: Wellington's Headquarters: a Study of the Administrative Problems in the Peninsula 1809-1814.
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